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The Compleat Online Discussion re: controversy surrounding the Santa Fe Film Fest’s screening of SUSAN HERO (since re-titled to “Lost In New Mexico”)

The F*ck Up

~ Starring ~

Jason Rosette………..As the Filmmaker
Stephen Rubin………As the Director, Santa Fe Film Festival
Jon Bowman…………As the Elusive Founder, Santa Fe Film Festival

~and~

Dr. Alan Rice………..Actor-Physicist gone Haywire

~ with Other Special Guests ~

[**Not recommended for readers with weak stomachs**]

I wanted to post this recap, with all the other relevant (but missing) inputs, as seen on the
Withoutabox* bulletin board when I sought feedback regarding the mishandled New Mexico
screening of our 100% local NM feature, (No SEX For) SUSAN HERO* at the 2007 Santa Fe
Film Festival. It really was a very disappointing incident which I hope everyone can learn from. [* then working title, now called LOST IN NEW MEXICO: the strange tale of Susan Hero]

[* WithoutABox, by the way, rocks!–we have no issue or problem with WithoutABox. WithoutABox is without doubt one of the most innovative, creative, and laudable developments to enter the indie film scene in a long, long time…Sure, we had some rough moments with WithoutA Box when we were setting up our own movie festival, CamboFest out in Cambodia–which I program, along with various Khmer colleagues–but, again, this message, this blog note, my issue here has nothing to do with WAB whatsover.]

Anyway, I felt compelled, for the sake of truthfulness, to include additional the material which transpired behind the scenes, via emails between myself and the WAB moderator and
other contributors.

Basically, the moderator of the WAB board (Noah Kadner) shut down the thread before I
had a chance to clarify what actually went down*–

[*Noah, an aquaintance of Santa Fe fest’s Stephen Rubin as well as mine, and an otherwise
decent guy who I knew from my NM days when I was a behind-the-scenes shooter on his
feature, had closed the WAB thread before allowing us a chance to objectively tell our
whole side of the story; when I asked him to allow us to post again to clarify, he refused.

As a result, we posted that entire WAB discussion here on the Camerado blog as a
workaround, including some other material (emails) as well for the sake of transparency.

When Noah found out that we’d posted this material on our blog, he complained about us
“posting his private emails”. I pointed out that an email or a letter or other correspondence
is shared between sender and recipient, and as such is actually the property of both
(as you’d see in any bookstore when you find a “collected letters” book.)

I mentioned to him that (on the contructive side of things) he might in any case better understand our own distress in light of his
perceived misuse of his email, since in our case, an
ENTIRE FEATURE FILM had been
misused/premiered without our knowledge…there was no reponse to this point.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>>>

ANYWAY: I would have been happy and excited to screen SUSAN HERO at the Santa Fe Film Festival under any other normal circumstances, but it was incredibly dissapointing to hear that, just after I’d returned back from the US at great expense (specifically in part to try to get a screening in New Mexico) there had in fact been a screening of the movie…

But I’d never been asked or informed, and I only just found out about it through another actor friend in New Mexico who emailed me to mention “a screening”, and then I followed up by Googling around til I learned about it.

** If anyone can honestly explain that it’s OK to have a festival premiere your feature (that you’ve worked on for years, while insisting you make the movie with only local talent from your state because you view that as important for development of the local industry) without actually

1) seeking your permission or
2) even letting you know about it

(just after you’ve headed back 10,000 miles after trying as best you could to get a screening in your homestate, so that the talent and everyone else involved in the movie could finally see their finished work…)

while the festival actually nontheless goes ahead and collects box office/ticket money, and even makes posters for advertising the screening, after you’re gone, without even having the courtesy to send an email to let you know about the screening…

and on top of this, shortly afterwards, you learn that the festival actually had some antipathy towards you for some (benign as it turns out) outreach you’d sent via a letter to the Governor’s Film office–not to the festival, mind you, but a totally separate third party–then I would stand corrected for everything I’ve felt, said, or done regarding this issue **

That just doesn’t make sense to me or a lot of other folks in New York or LA or the rest of the industry who also wondered what happened. Whether the movie’s great or not, whether the filmmaker is big or not, whether you agree with what the filmmaker has to say, personally or otherwise: that’s no way to handle things. It’s not ethical, it’s not constructive, and it’s just plain wrong.

As mentioned, I’d just been in the US that same summer specifically to try to screen the movie, in person, in New Mexico and I could have easily extended my return flight in order to attend the NM premiere.

But no one at the festival actually ever requested my permission to show the movie; an actor had submitted on his own, apparently it to “Cinema cafe staff” [in his words]–who also apparently operate the Santa Fe Film festival, though I never could determine this for sure–despite my express instructions to him not to do any submissions of the title to any venues.

(I’d asked the actor to look around for venues while he was in New Mexico and let me know about them–money was so tight for me that summer, after travelling all the way back from Asia, that I just couldn’t afford to head to New Mexico to put together a screening unless I had a strong lead first)

But most importantly–and disappointingly–no one from the festival even bothered to let me know it would be screening, something that could have nearly effortlessly been accomplished via a simple email*

(*or Facebook message; in a weird twist, it turns out that fest staffer Stephen Rubin had requested to be a friend of mine on Facebook well before the whole debacle took place…didn’t know who he was at the time but I said, sure, and let him be a Facebook friend, why not? Anyway, you can image what it may have been like–after all this, sorting through the wreckage of the blown NM premiere and all the fruitless attempts to get Stephen to clarify what happened, after the event–to find a picture and profile for a Stephen Rubin on my list of Facebook friends! WTF?).

To continue: I only later found out by Google searching that SUSAN HERO had actually played, a few weeks after I’d headed back to Asia…not the way I’d wanted to “bring the movie home” as a local NM filmmaker, with filmmaking actitivities in NM dating back as far as 1993.

Finally, it was later revealed that festival staff had been, according to the actor who submitted the film, distressed at outreach I’d done to the Governor’s Film office a short while earlier (although I’m not sure how my communications with the Governor’s film office would have also rightfully been the business of the festival…in any case, the fest staff specifically mentioned what a troublemaker I’d been, sending a “letter to the Governor’s office.”)

I’m not sure they actually ever read the letter, it seems like they were just making some big (and erroneous) assumptions. That letter, in which I’d written which stated my eager desire to achieve a screening in New Mexico while I was still in the US that summer, happened to be benign; I was pretty careful to make it as reasonable and as polite as possible.

** As a result, the letter is posted on this blog under another entry for anyone to look at, to dispell notions that I’d somehow undertaken some disturbing or offensive communication. **

Anyway, the festival staff appeared to be angry about the letter I’d written and although they never addressed that issue when I asked them about it after the fact; but it’s been confimed by Alan Rice, the actor who went ahead and met with them (despite my instructions).

To this date I still haven’t received any response from the festival staff when I asked them about this issue with the letter…

In any case, there appears to be some linkage between the fest’s reaction to that benign letter I’d sent (again, not to them, so therefore not really their business–still can’t figure out why they’d even consider this to be an issue related to their operations) and the pretty significant mishandling of a local NM filmmaker’s work. Which would be significantly unethical, beyond an actual “mistake” or communications error…that would be a willing “diss” of a filmmaker’s work, not to mention the copyright/public performance issues involved.

(When I asked them to please clarify this, I was met with non-response.)

Never mind that I’d been working in New Mexico as far back as 1993, then again in the mid 90’s on the Gotham Award nominated feature, BOOKWARS–long before “Tamalewood” had become a hot location.

Didn’t matter that SUSAN HERO, when it was in production in 2003, was the ONLY movie shooting in New Mexico after a Shirley McClain movie had fallen through. Didn’t matter that I insisted on using only NM talent and actors in the production, and that I set up a pretty decent resrouce to assist talent in NM, the NM Talent Group at Yahoo.

Didn’t mattter: I had the audacity to do outreach to the Governor’s office and so I guess I had to be put in my place for whatever (ultimately imaginary) offenses!

Anyway, when I asked the original board moderator Noah, whose own movie had screened at Santa Fe Fest a couple years earlier, to allow further clarification on the WAB board, he declined; so I felt obliged to make those clarifications here on the Camerado blog.

My ultimate goal is not to unduly skewer the festival or the actor or to assign any undue blame; but, now that my intentions and reputation have been attacked, I feel there’s nothing unethical about being as open and as honest as possible out this whole issue, so that whoever’s interested can learn from the process firsthand.

Another goal is, ironically, to defend myself from any wrong action in all this, as some folks who were involved in the scenario have so far attempted to make me as filmmaker/producer somehow culpable for the mishandling of my own screening (!)

It’s too bad really…I had a real interest in the development of the NM production scene, dating as far back as the early 90’s.

The Lesson: Seems though, that if you’re going to be vocal about something–no matter how delicate or diplomatic your approach–there’ll be some folks who disagree with you; if those folks, as in the case of the Santa Fe fest, happen to be misinformed about or second guess your motives, then the result is that you might find yourself “dissed” for no good reason–“dissed” to the point that your work is screened without your knowledge, without the basic minimal respect allowable to an filmmaker who’s worked hard on his creation.

If you react to that in any way short of greasing yourself up and bending over, then you’re deemed to be “difficult” (?!)

Anyway, for the sake of truth and fairness, I have sought to make the facts available so that, if anyone’s interested, they may at least see the mechanics behind how the situation unfolded…

** Additional/behind the scenes material is included IN RED as emails sent between myself and Noah; otherwise the thread is as it appears on the WAB bulletin board, “Festival Cafe” **

(It may be interesting to see the differences… 😉 )

===============================================================>>>

12-15-2007, 07:10 AM


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Default Questionable Fest Experience: Seeking Feedback/Advice


Hello WAB community:

(This is actually a question I have as a filmmaker, since we also run a fest called CamboFest…but this is regarding my second, recently completed feature, SUSAN HERO, and I would appreciate any feedback you might offer)

I’ve recently had a pretty questionable/not-good experience with an established fest in my homestate of New Mexico–will leave name out for now unless WABers deem it useful to know.

In short, they screened my movie 1) without getting my permission or 2) even notifying me. I only actually found out it had played after an actor emailed me to say how much he liked seeing the movie! (so I Googled around and found it had played)

What had happened is this: an actor associated with the project had taken a screener to the fest office and persuaded them to screen it–then paid the entry fee and submitted the entry materials (without my permisson or knowing it)

Now, the actor then told me he’d done some outreach to some folks at this fest, but I didnt know he’d gone that far. I’d asked him to look around while I was in my homestate and see if he could find some venues where I could do an IN-PERSON screening, even if that were only an art gallery, warehouse, etc.

Basically, I needed to do the screening while I was in the US, in person (as part of the strategy to network and pitch the next project) and I was willing to do that wherever we could.

Anyway, the actor tells me he’s got it to some folks who might be able to screen it later on–still, I remind him that I want to do the screening only if I could attend in-person.

** NOW HERE’S THE KICKER: In order to ward off any possibility of the fest screening the movie without telling / informing me [they didn’t actually even have the latest cut], I tracked down the fest staffers and emailed them to tell them that, while I appreciated their interest in showing the movie:

1) they didn’t have the final cut of the and 2) they should contact me, not the actor, regarding any screening and 3) I really, really (my diplomatic phrasing for MUST) want to be at my homestate premiere in-person to network and pitch future projects

In any case, I was very diplomatic, and I thought I’d done adequate outreach and never would have suspected they’d go ahead and show it anyway–in any case, the burden should not be on filmmaker, correct (?) to have to track down venues who MIGHT have the movie and then make sure they’re diligent about securing performance rights–no?

So, compounding all this was the fact that I’d just been in the US for the first time in over a year (I live in Asia, where, by the way, I direct a movie festival in Cambodia called CamboFest – see http://www.cambofest.com)/.

I’d been trying like mad to get that IN-PERSON screening in my homestate while I was still in the US, so that I could not only enjoy seeing my movie play in person, at a festival for the first time [since I live far away and can’t reasonably travel to see it play at fests, so far at least] but also do some crucial networking and pitch my next feature script–which, like the feature movie in question, would be shot in my homestate as well, as I’d always been a strong proponent of making local productions.

In short: I’d been in the US trying to get the in-person screening, could not make that happen, then headed back to Asia to hear a festival had gone ahead and shown it ANYWAY without actually getting my permission or notifying me.

My reaction when I found out: anger, betrayal, violation of my right to decide where and when my movie gets shown.

When I approached the fest, they were pretty dismissive, saying it was basically the actors fault. And that they were sorry they didn’t notify me. But they did not acknowledge the emails I’d sent in advance, trying to avoid this very situation.

On top of this, a poster for the movie was made (by someone) and was hanging in the Film Commission office, as reported to me by one of the other actors. So it appears that they even went so far as to make a poster, which I had no input in making,yet they didn’t even bother to ask/tell filmmaker? It’s mindnumbing…

Or is this just me? I’ve been making movies and submitting to fests for a long time, but nothing like this has ever happened.

Anyway, I’ve asked so far to get as a minimum, a copy of the submission materials the actor used to submit the movie, but even that is not forthcoming yet after numerous attempts, and my patience is really wearing thin.

SO HERE’S MY QUESTION–

*** What is an appropriate reaction/course of action on my part? ***

and

*** Is fest ultimately culpable, despite their claim that actor “persuaded them” to show the movie, and even, despite actor–so they claim–having submitted the paperwork and presented himself as authorized copyright representative? ***

It just seems so weird, even the fact that I contacted them way in advance, to avoid this very kind of problem–

Items I’ve thought about as potential “payback” might be: 1) guaranteed future screening 2) usuable PR quote from the fest 3) box office/rental fee for the screening.

I’ve of course been in touch with some legal folks, and they all basically state I have some legal claims. But, I also want to play this as reasonably as possible–without getting shafted, of course.

In any case, even at our emerging fest, CamboFest, we’re always very, very diligent about getting proper screening rights.

Thanks for any thoughts, advice, suggestions,

JR

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#2 Report Post
Old 12-15-2007, 07:51 AM
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Obviously, there’s no question that the festival screwed up, based on what you’re telling us. It sounds as though you clearly told them that they didn’t have permission to show your film, so it’s hard to see how they could justify it (regardless of an actor submitting it). On a practical level, though, I suspect you would find it impossible to show that you suffered any damages because of what they did. Without being able to show that you’ve suffered specific damage (i.e., lost money in some way), I don’t think you have a legal claim that is worth pursuing. Yes, you could prove copyright infringement, but it wouldn’t be worth it, since damages would be zero.

I’m not an attorney, so you might get different advice from an attorney. For practical purposes, though, I would simply let it go as a bad experience and move on. You’re not going to be able to change what happened. You’re not going to recover damages (since there aren’t any). So why waste your time pursuing it? The best you can do is let other people (here and elsewhere) know about your bad experience with this festival. Just tell us which festival it was so people can decide for themselves if this incident is enough to keep people from doing business with the festival. (If the festival wants to tell its side of the story, that would be good, too.)

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#3 Report Post
Old 12-15-2007, 08:13 AM
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I agree with David, although they need to know they stuffed up – big time.

If they didn’t screen the final cut then surely that means your premiere status is still intact? I’d see it that way.

On the topic of posters, if we believed we had the rights to screen a film we very often make one off posters promoting that particular film (& screening) so we can market it to a target audience (whale films at the environment centre etc). Maybe that’s the kind of poster your friend saw?

Anyway all that aside it sucks – bigtime. You deserved to have your first screening they way you wanted it and the fact that you tried to make contact and got no-where only makes that festival’s mess-up worse. I think you should name them, enough festivals have their flaws exposed here on the boards, why protect these guys – and filmmakers have a right to know which festivals won’t make the effort to answer an important email.

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#4 Report Post
Old 12-15-2007, 08:17 AM
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They must have liked your film to screen it. Tell them your goals and see if they will work with you in that regard.

If the relationships are not spoiled, why not turn this into a positive experience and ask them to help you arrange and co-host a future screening (to make up for the opportunity you missed), and to provide an invitation list from their database (in addition to your own.)

You might even consider making it a charity event and ask for a small donation from attendees.

You can arrange your desired pitching sessions around the screening or in another location.

If the festival is connected to your local community you want them to be your allies. They probably have resources in the area, or can help you more easily connect to a general audience beyond the specific investors you might already know.

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#5 Report Post
Old 12-15-2007, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonR_30743 View Post

Items I’ve thought about as potential “payback” might be: 2) usuable PR quote from the fest

“We liked his film so much, we screened the rough cut illegally!”
~ Mysterioso Film Festival

On the serious side, I was pretty much thinking what David assessed while I was reading your story – you’re in the right, but it would be hard to prove or receive compensation for damages. Maybe if you could show a pattern of abuse and how numerous film deals have been garnered by finished films at this festival, then you could state a claim that the rough cut screening hurt your career possibilities, or something. But that’s probably a tough one to prove.

If you’re worried about loss of premiere status in the U.S., I think you could safely hold on to it by saying that was a works-in-progress screening.

Did they get the poster from the actor, or design it themselves? I don’t know the actor who approached the festival, but is it possible he represented himself as they say? Is he given to big, ambitious gestures? He may have felt he was doing you a favor by pushing the film, he may feel a propriety right to it (he’s in it, which is enough for most actors to call it ‘their’ film)…

It may be a case of misguided or overly enthusiastic actions on the part of one of your cast members, rather than the fest being too devious.

The emails asking them not to screen it are the worst part about the story, otherwise, I’d be tempted to say, “Hey, most people are thrilled to get into festivals.” But I know that’s no consolation when you feel ripped off or betrayed, and I don’t want to belittle your degree of upset. You have every right to be angry for a while, but in the grand scheme of things, you might benefit more from treating it as a simple misunderstanding (whether it was or not), and trying to garner some support from the festival.

Sorry to hear about your situation. On the bright side, they liked the rough cut enough to screen it as part of their festival, so the finished version must be great.

Good luck in the future – hope you’re able to get your funding and keep making films.

gelder

P.S. I posted this before seeing J’aimee or Joseph’s post on the subjects. I take too much time to type, I guess.

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#6 Report Post
Old 12-15-2007, 05:54 PM
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I had a similar experience. I submitted a film to a fest and when I wasn’t selected, called for feedback. I was told that they liked my film and it was too bad it had already screened and was hence, “not eligible.” After doing a little digging, I found that one of the actors, who was a volunteer at the fest, had arranged for a screening prior to the fest without telling me.

Them’s the breaks.

Lou

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#7 Report Post
Old 12-16-2007, 04:15 AM
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Default Thanks for the feedback so far–


Yea, it is insightful to hear these perspectives; I’m aware of the realities of whatever legal angles there may be, which is why I want to stay “off that grid” unless there is a compelling reason for a lot of reasons you all have already mentioned.

Also: aside from being “right”, it seems like a lot of operations folks inside festivals (from my own experience as well) seem to be somehow immune from any sense of responsibility when it comes to something like this–my position has always been that it’s a 50-50 arrangement overall: the fest needs strong content, and the filmmakers need fests.

But the unfortunate REALITY is that even in a situation like this, the filmmaker can somehow end up as the bad guy / girl for even bringing this up, for calling a fest on something improper…in the foggy world of festival operations, basic facts get lost and suddenly the filmmaker who had his/her work shown in an improper fashion is labelled as a troublemaker, or “ungrateful”.

Which is why I appreciate the WAB feedback on this; I do want to handle this in a constructive, reasonable way.

Along the lines of having the festival itself [it’s the Santa Fe Film Festival, by the way] weigh in, I figure I’ll do this: I’ll wait for them to get back to me (so far I’ve been trying to contact them by phone, on my own dime, from Asia, and via many emails to resolve this–basically a completely one-sided communcation from me, though I’m the one who got the short end of the stick)

…and when they do get back to me, as they’ve assured me they would, I’ll let them know this discussion is ongoing on these boards and that they may want to give their perspective so as not to unfairly damage their reputation.

Thanks for the info so far,

JR

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#8 Report Post
Old 12-16-2007, 10:58 PM
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Yes I have had a similar experience to this also! not as relentless though.
I submitted a film of mine to a online streaming provider, (as they got good coverage on there page and it seemed like a good idea). and about 2 months later a got an e-mail from a festival called West Garth Film Fest, saying that my film had been rejected, even without my submiting it.
Anyhow it turned out that one of the providers I submited it to, submited it to the festival without piror permission..

But when your a indie film maker, theres not really much you can do except put it down to a bad experience.

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#9
Old 12-17-2007, 05:15 PM
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Jason-

Wow that’s a really bad experience. Shame on the actor for letting things go so far without your authorization. Unfortunately I can see the festival’s position on this one. There’s no festival that has the resources to research every festival submission they receive to make sure it’s coming from someone actually authorized to rep it. This is why I gave out exactly zero copies of my movie to anyone before I started submitting it.

In this case, I think the festival owes you a few things. Number one an apology for not connecting your communications about not showing the film with the actual scheduling of the film at the festival. Number two to change their website to clearly state that your film was not a premiere but a work in progress so that you don’t lose your premiere status. Although ultimately this is not as horrible as it sounds because you are going to lose it eventually anyway and you can still have a long festival run after the premiere at many festivals without premiere requirements.

As for further legal actions I would say you could take the actor himself to court for copyright violation but I would imagine you’d have a hard time proving any actual damages. Not to mention a good lawyer could probably take your communications with the actor and construe them in such a way to show the actor had a reasonable cause to think he was authorized to submit the film. In other words I think you’ll basically just ending up wasting a lot of time and legal fees with nothing gained.

The good news is that a festival liked your film enough to screen it. So now maybe it’s time to keep submitting it elsewhere and get on with your career.

-Noah

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#10 Report Post
Old 12-17-2007, 05:41 PM
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Sorry to hear this story Jason R.

And ditto to what Noah said. Shame on the actor-

Unless you gave this actor a producer credit, there should have been no reason for the festival to believe the actor was acting as an agent of the film (read: able to make deals, garner screenings, talk to distributors, etc.)

I work around this sort of thing happening by making it a firm policy to watermark all credit copies handed out to crew and cast, so no one has a ‘screenable’ copy, to act on anyone’s behalf at festivals, markets and/or with distributors-

In the meantime work on the film festival to get your premiere status refreshed

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Last edited by Shannonn K_175688 : 12-18-2007 at 09:17 PM.

12-22-2007, 07:04 AM
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Location: Asia
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Default Thanks for the feedback–


Thanks for the feedback, it really does help put things in perspective. Basically I would have let it slide completely (with some disappointment of course) if not for the fact that:

1) I specifically did outreach to the fest in advance to try to clarify and avoid this whole thing

2) it was a fest in my homestate where I’d hoped for a couple years to use the networking opp to pitch future projects and

3) I was just in the USA, at great effort and expense, from Asia (where I’m based) and had the fest even just INFORMED me, I could have changed my schedule to stick around for the screening.

4) I’d told actor specifically NOT to do anything other than refer folks to me so that I could pursue.

Am still trying to get at least a copy of the paperwork the actor submitted, which the fest has assured me it will provide, and which is in fest’s interest to cover itself. And the artwork which was made for the movie which I’ve never laid eyes on…would be nice to see it at least. Maybe a marketable quote attendance figures, something else which I can use to offset the experience.

Anyway, when that stuff comes in, I’ll duly note it here so that fest can be seen to be attempting in good faith to make up for it…

…we’ll see what happens!

__________________
J Rosette ~ CAMERADO
Moviemaker * Producer * Director

BOOKWARS (“Terrific”- LA Times”) 2000
CRISIS 2005
HOLLYWOOD BLACKOUT 2006
No SEX For SUSAN HERO (“An excellent achievement” – Sydney Underground Film Festival) 2007
CamboFest: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia
Cambotube!: “The YouTube of Cambodia’

Cambodia 855 012 194 2702
Thailand 66 081 617 9240
http://www.camerado.com/

CONTACT:
camerado@camerado.com *
PO Box 707
12000 Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA








#12 Report Post
Old 12-31-2007, 04:40 AM
NoahK_170061's Avatar
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Location: Venice,CA
Posts: 3,304
Default


Yup ultimately this is a problem between you and the actor- the festival is a 3rd party to a communication and relationship gone awry. I.e. the tail wagging the dog…

Noah

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#13 Report Post
Old 01-02-2008, 09:49 AM
Festival Director

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Location: Asia
Posts: 22
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Default Well, actually–


Well, actually and technically, Noah, the festival is responsible (exhibitor must must always confirm public performance permissions) although the actor clearly aggravataed the situation, and sloppy administration probably would have let something like this occur more easily.

But, based on the formal (legal) outreach I’ve done to date, the fest is ultimately responsible for properly vetting the films, liasing with filmmakers, etc.

It doesn’t help the fest’s cause either that 1) they never replied to me even when I tried to PREMPTIVELY contact them, well before the event and 2) they never even emailed me directly as filmmaker, as a matter of professional courtesy.

I also doesnt help the Sant Fe Fests’ cause either that, to date, all our contact so far has been one sided (from me to them) in trying to straighten things out–I still haven’t gotten a copy of the poster art they made, (which I havent even seen), attendance figures, a copy of the entry form the actor supposedly submitted ages ago. Nothing: sent them quite a few reminders too.

While I’m at it, I should mention again that I direct a fest out here in Asia called CamboFest…and to be honest, if I had made a mistake on the same scale as Santa Fe Fest did, I would have truend around all those materials ASAP, without leaving the filmmaker to hound me for them–really, that would be adding insult to injury. And other fest directors I’ve talked with concur that in a situation like this, the best ay for fest to create a remedy would be to provide those items as requested by filmlmaker, as soon as possible.

Noah, from what I recall you had a decent experience with them so I appreciate your weighing in, but in my view at least it’s best for the sake of the forum to stay objective in determining what really happned, and who’s culpable, so that folks can learn from it and try to avoid the same thing happening to them.

A weird coda to all this just occurred by the way: I came across one of the festival staff on my Facebook account, I just happneed to notice the guy had the same name (Stephen Rubin). Indeed, it turned out to be the same person when I inquired.

He’d signed onto my Facebook acct well before the whole unsavory festival incident took place

Anyway, I say it’s weird considering that one reason the fest gave for not contacting me about the screening is that they said they didn’t have my email address (easily Google-able in any case). It seems to me that the guy could have at least sent me a Facebook message saying, “hey, we’ll be screening your movie”.

Now that simple bit of outreach really would have made a big difference…

(Still waiting for the materials the fest said they’d send ages ago)

__________________
J Rosette ~ CAMERADO
Moviemaker * Producer * Director

BOOKWARS (“Terrific”- LA Times”) 2000
CRISIS 2005
HOLLYWOOD BLACKOUT 2006
No SEX For SUSAN HERO (“An excellent achievement” – Sydney Underground Film Festival) 2007
CamboFest: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia
Cambotube!: “The YouTube of Cambodia’

Cambodia 855 012 194 2702
Thailand 66 081 617 9240
http://www.camerado.com/

CONTACT:
camerado@camerado.com *
PO Box 707
12000 Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA

Thu, 03 Jan 2008 07:23:05 -0600 [01/03/2008 07:23:05 AM CST]
From:
To:
Subject:
Headers:

Noah–

Yea, I appreciate anything that could result in some more positive outcome from the
incident; it was not a WAB issue though, so I can’t say (either way) how WAB getting
involved would work towards a constructive result.

I must’ve drifted from my original inetntion; I haven’t looked at my initial post in a
while, but I thought I had been seeking perspectives from the WAB community regarding
legal AND non-legal dimensions alike.

I’m not focussing on any legal dimension to be honest because, as you rightly point out,
damages would be hard to demonstrate. PLUS, my gut tells me it’s not an incident best
approached in that way since, in reality, whether I’m right or not (and I do belive I
am), not everyone at the fest may feel that way.

Anyway, I do feel that sharing the details of how this went down, for better or for
worse, may be of interest to the community, which is why I brought it up…

I would welcome and consider your judgement as moderator of the board and as a fellow
filmmaker in any case,

Hope all is well

Jason

Quoting Noah Kadner <noah@>:

Hi Jason-

I just wanted to follow up on your trouble with SF. My objectivity’s
not really the issue here. Yes as a filmmaker I had my feature play

there a few years ago and it was a reasonably positive experience.

That said, I have no reason to stand up for any one fest over another,

a dispute is a dispute period.


But your original question was what legal avenues you have. I would
say very little as you have no damages you can actually show. And I

would say this for *any* festival that comes along on WAB, even yours.

That you are understandably feeling hurt and violated doesn’t

translate into something I personally think is worth spending your

hard-earned cash enumerating in a court of law. But that’s just my

opinion. You do what you want to do.


In the interests of being fair, I would be happy to contact the Santa
Fe Festival folks directly if you’d like and see if I can move things

along with getting your stuff back. I can tell you from my own

experiences I don’t think you’ll be likely to get much in the way of

audience data, they don’t have the staff for that but the other stuff

is more possible to get.


-Noah

#14 Report Post

Old 01-03-2008, 09:23 PM
Legs

Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 392
Default Let it go


Honestly, if you keep pursuing the idea of getting some sort of retribution from the festival, you’re going to end up losing either way. Even if you do get some sort of fee and your materials back, you’re gonna have the reputation of being difficult to work with. Festival directors talk to one another and word can spread pretty quickly. Yes, it sucks that it happened, but there’s not a lot you can do about it.

It’s best to focus on the future, on finishing the film and getting it out there to more festivals. I wouldn’t waste my time on something like this. Your best bet is to try and turn it around to a positive by maybe having another local screening of the final print that is sponsored by the festival or done in conjunction with the festival.

If the actor submitted the paperwork and attested that he was the legal rights holder, I can’t blame them for assuming that he was telling the truth. Festivals are usually non-profits staffed by either volunteers or part-time underpaid staff. I can’t imagine that with all that goes into holding a festival that they have time or the money to legally vet each and every film that they screen.

I wouldn’t be upset that you lost out on the networking opportunity. Santa Fe isn’t exactly known as the Hollywood of the Southwest. Yeah, it would have been cool to meet other filmmakers. But I can’t imagine it would make or break your career.

Filmmaking takes so much time and energy, you have to be pick your battles. Focus on moving forward and getting your work out there.








Noah–

Thanks for the effort, and I appreciate the respect for the integrity of the board; but,
Noah, I do still disagree with you about the actor being purely responsible.

I’m also reasonably sure that you have a different persepctive than I have from all
this–I’malso surprised at the ready contact and explanation Stephen has offered to you.

Given that you moderate a board on WAB, my sense is that you may have able to speak with
Stephen more readily and get responsivelness from the fest that I never could: to wit,
I’ve called from Cambodia a couple times, (left my contact # too: never a phone call)
emailed many times, but never received any substantial result except that Stephen (not
Jon Bowman, the director) told me again and again that they would send the
materials–but have not.

Noah, I run a fest nearly single handedly. Now, that’s limited staff. I’m sorry man, but
if I had made a mistake as they had, I would have turned the materials around and tried
to help the filmmaker as best I could withing 24 hours–not more than a month.

Anyway,the issue is more than just with the actor; here’s why:

Even AFTER the actor contacted me, saying he’d done “some outreach” to folks from the
Film Cafe, I went ahead and sent emails to the festival folks specifically trying to
guess what might be happening (not my job, really) and asking very diplomatically to
contact me–not the actor–regarding the screening, since

1) I am the copyright holder (not the actor) and, besides that, I very much wanted to be
present

2) I had a newer cut of the movie which is the actual final cut

I never received bounced emails back from anyone, and I believe I was diligent about
trying to be preemptive about making this mistake.

Now, here’s something which I DIDN’T put on the board, out of due respect to the fest,
but which the actor in question confirmed when I asked him what went down, what happened.

(I’m pretty sure Stephen Rubin didn’t mention this to you?)

The Santa Fe Fest took great offense at a letter which I had written to the Governor only
a short while before the festival. I’ll include a link to that letter here, so you can
judge for yourself if such a thing was worthy of slamming a filmmaker.

I’m not sure they even read the letter, which is why I ultimately sent it to the Santa Fe
Fest a day ago so they could see it for themselves…but they were in any case pretty
predisposed against me (for content of the letter which they seem to have basically
taken great offense at) as Alan, the actor, mentioned to me when I asked him about how
it all went down:

“Jason, I stuck my neck way out for you. They said “Oh, we know Jason very well. We know
about the wrote a letter to the Governor.”

SOME BACKGROUND: In the past, I’d written to the Governor’s office about what I perceived
to be shortcomings in the incentives for local NM filmmakers. New incentive programs were
shortly introduced, but not before folks took issue with me not being a pure
“cheerleader” for the NM film industry as it stood. I couldn’t ethically do that, not
when I perceived huge gaps in incentives for local NM filmmakers.

Anyway, following the (benign) letter I’d written to the Governor’s office in October
before the Fest, when I was trying any way I could to land a NM screening ** while I was
still in the US **, the Fest staff apprently felt miffed for whatever reason and even
mentioned the letter to Alan as a component of their dealings with any potential outreach
from us. [Stephen never mentioned this, right?]

That’s why they never replied to me when I attempted to pre-empt any accidental screening
of the movie. I think they either misread my outreach to the Governor (not their business
though, really) or didn’t like that fact that I was vocal about changing things for
local NM filmmakers.

(Hey, if you want though, call Stephen back and ask him why the Fest took offense to the
letter I’d written to the Governor. Now I’d be curious to hear some info about that)

Anyway, take a look at the letter I wrote to the Governor, and decide for yourself if
it’s as controversial as they considered it to be before the screening “snafu” occured.

The link:

http://bloggeradocamerado.blogspot.com/

If you have a chance, it’d be cool to talk to you as well so that you could hearmy side
of the story. My number is 855 012 194 2702

Noah, I know you have to tread a political line in what you do, but I’d at least ask you
to consider the ethical dimensions here, beyond simply “the actor did it”, or it being
my burden because–frankly–I’m just an indie producer and not an established, wealthy NM
festival.

Because there is more to it than that…whether it’s acted on is, as you say though, a
matter of expediency as well as determing what may be just or unjust.

But it is generally true that what goes around comes around, and I can say with a pure
conscience that I never willfully screwed anyone over, nor do I intend to.

I’m sorry to hear about Stephen; but as cold as it may sound, this issue has been
ongoing for a long time. Couldn’t he have asked someone to send me artwork, attendance
figures, and other materials in the past month this has been dragging on? I offered a NM
contact of mine to help him as needed to get this done–remember, I’m not the bad guy
here. (Right?)

If they had even just told me, emailed me, that the screening was taking place, I could
have benefitted from it.

An email. An email, a Facebook message….”hey, we’ll be screening your movie on –“

That’s all it would have taken, and even assuming the actor was solely accountable, I
don’t see how this courtesy/necessity could not have been easily and effortlessly
extended, which isa matter of course for any other festival I can think of.

Anyway, All The Best,

Jason

Quoting Noah Kadner <noah@>:






Jason-

I spoke with Stephen Rubin at the Santa Fe Film Festival. As I
suggested, he feels this is an issue between you and your actor. The

actor misrepresented his rights to show the film to them and they as

most festivals do not have the time or the resources to research the

truthfulness of every applicant. That said, Stephen is going to get the

poster to you as soon as he recovers from surgery he recently had.

Beyond that I would recommend you move on. The damage is done and as

another poster on the board said, you need to pick your battles. This

is one that pursuing further will probably lead to not much more than a

bad reputation for you and your movie in the festival world.


As far as the WAB message board is concerned, we’ll leave that thread
up as an example of ‘don’t let others get a copy of your movie and

submit it.’ But if it veers down the path of bashing the SF film

festival specifically, we’ll likely need to close it, as they did

nothing wrong in this case.


Best,
Noah







#15 Report Post
Old 01-05-2008, 11:09 AM
Festival Director

Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Asia
Posts: 22
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Default Yea, I hear you–


Yea, I hear you; but to be honest, if a filmmaker I knew or heard of of underwent the same situation, yet handled it in a persistent, professional manner, I’d actually applaud that filmmaker despite [because of?] the culture of rumor that floats around such things.

I wouldn’t consider that filmmaker difficult to work with…to the contrary (assuming filmmaker handled it in a reasonably pro manner) I’d respect that filmmaker’s seriousness towards his/her work and probably take a greater interest in what s/he’s doing.

I’m not sure I’d ever rule out a filmmaker for our festival, CamboFest, just because another festival director stated this person was difficult to work with. If it was a totally chronic, persistent thing, then maybe…but then again, look at Vincent Gallo…that guy’s about as extreme as it gets, yet he can still make movies.

My own primary gripe (besides not being told of the screening–especially considering that I contacted the Santa Fe Fest fest more than a month in advance to try to avoid this very problem*) is that I’m the one who got the “diss” and the bungled screening, yet I’m also somehow being portrayed by some folks as the bad guy for trying to clarify why/how this happened–or for even bringing it up!

It’s just daring to mention the problem makes the fimmaker “difficult”…I’m not sure I’d agree. Anyway, just my two cents as I wait to receive materials fest has said they’ll send.

But thanks for all the input from WAB folks it is useful in “aligning” things and perspectives–

[*Just as an FYI, here’s the email I sent to the festival folks more than a MONTH before the screening took place; as you can see I was trying to avoid the very problem that ended up happening. If this email seems unreasonable, nondiplomatic, or unclear, or if anyone honestly can read into it some sort of permission to screen the movie without letting me know, please tell me where I fell short–I’m serious, I don’t want this to happen again!]

===========================>>>

Sun, 21 Oct 2007 20:31:49 -0500 [10/21/2007 08:31:49 PM CST]
From: J Rosette

To:
jbowXXX@santafefilmfestival.com, sruXXX@santafefilmfestival.com
Subject: Hello, regarding (No Sex For) SUSAN HERO!

Headers: Show All Headers

Hello–


My name is Jason Rosette, I’m the director of a movie called (No Sex For) SUSAN HERO!
[formerly titled SUSAN HERO–we added a new pre-title to it].


A colleague of mine, Dr Alan Rice (one of the actors) recently was in New Mexico and
handed off a DVD screener of the movie for your consideration in a local New Mexico

filmmaker showcase–I was living fulltime in NM for several years and was there when we

developed and produced SUSAN HERO.


Anyway, thanks in advance for your consideration; we hope it might be able to screen at
your event.


Just want to call your attention to a couple items: 1) the latest, final version of the
movie may be slightly different (more polished) than the screener you have, although it’s

not significantly different, and 2) I am living and working in Asia these days on a

variety of social issue projects, and I would very much like to be around if/when the

movie is screened.


Can you please contact me rather than Alan, or at least in addition to Alan, with the
status of the movie, ie, whether it will be screening, etc?


I’m actually in the US now and due to head back to Asia, and I would try my best in the
event you wanted to screen SUSAN HERO, to be able to make an appearance in New Mexico if

& when it were to screen.


Thanks, I can be reached at
camerXXX@camerado.com or alternately at jroseXXX@gmail.com

Thanks again,

Jason Rosette

__________________
J Rosette ~ CAMERADO

Moviemaker * Producer * Director


BOOKWARS (“Terrific”- LA Times”) 2000
CRISIS 2005

HOLLYWOOD BLACKOUT 2006

No SEX For SUSAN HERO (“An excellent achievement” – Sydney Underground Film Festival) 2007

CamboFest: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia

Cambotube!: “The YouTube of Cambodia’


Cambodia 855 012 194 2702
Thailand 66 081 617 9240

HTTP://WWW.CAMERADO.COM

CONTACT:
camerado@camerado.com *
PO Box 707

12000 Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA


Quoting Noah Kadner <noah@>:

Wish I could be of more help but don’t have the time and there’s not a
positive outcome I can get for you. What you want is to unscramble an

egg- not gonna happen.


-Noah


Re: The Santa Fe Issue
Headers: Show All Headers
Noah–

If you don’t have the time definitely not wise to get involved: was worth a try though.
In any case, it’s not your deal (as mentioned before, I really didn’t think it was to
begin with, but…)

I appreciate the effort so far, but it’s probably best though for me to deal with them
directly anyway, since more folks in the way may just add to the confusion. Also, I can’t
help but think that a purely objective mediator would be best, and that’s not clearly the
case here.

As far as unscrambling the egg…well, that may be, but I still intend to enjoy some
omlet (some remedy in the form of materials and content I’m trying to get from the fest,
post facto), and it may still be useful for folks to see how this all went down…which
is why I posted in the first place.

My only comment in wrapping things up though would be accurate to necessarily categorize
this as just an “actor problem”, since that–ironically–places all culpability on
filmmakers in general to seek out, track, and enforce exhibition of their work* [see
below] . At *minimum* this instance is an issue of festival admninistration’s
sloppiness, compounded by a third party.

At max, it’s something a little more troubling, along the lines I mentioned to you
already.

In any case, it would be a disservice to filmmakers in general (including those on WAB)
even aside from this instance, to minimize the actual role and responsibilities of a fest
in conducting itself properly re: these issues, because exhibitor must always secure
proper permissions, period, and is responsible.

[By responsible I mean: If I come to your house and I sit down on a chair and break it,
am I responsible? Yes. Even if it was an accident?–I am still responsible. Did I
intend to break it? Who knows, maybe not. Am I responsible though, nontheless?
Absolutely.]

Anyway, if you’re not totally clear about rights issues, it might be worth reading up on
it and/or asking around, because it is pretty much at the core of what WAB is involved
with (exhibition via festivals)

It truly is the job and responsibility, no matter what the circumstances, of the
fest/exhibitor to confirm public performance rights are in place…if, as you mentioned,
a fest is too short staffed to handle some functions (like notifying the filmmaker–the
point of all this filmmaking ultimately, right?) then it would seem to me that the
fest/exhibitor should not be producing the event until they ARE adequately equipped to
deal with these very fundamental issues.

In which case, maybe WAB should vet such fests in some way, at least WAB-partner fests?

Anyway, I won’t post anything on the WAB board that is not based in fact (as I do, by the
way, on all the other blogs and boards, ala, IMDB, Fest21.com, etc) and if/when I do so
further it will still be in the spirit of something constructive.

Regards,

Jason

PS–Just to show I really went out of my way to 1) figure out on my own who might have
had the movie and 2) track them down and do outreach to ensure proper communication would
take place in case Santa Fe wanted to show the movie (still didn’t though!), take a look
below.

I think you’ll see this is pretty damn diligent of filmmaker in terms of trying to
clarify permissions rights and contact info to avoid anything like what took place
(Note: email is dated well BEFORE Santa Fe Fest showed the movie)

If there’s anything more a filmmaker could have reasonably done to sniff out and preempt
a bungled screening of my work, I’d welcome your suggestions…

In light of this message, sent more than a month before the screening actually took
place, I hope you can see why I was pissed that they didn’t even at least TELL me the
movie would be screening actor involvement/non-involvement issue aside.

PPS–Saw a DVD screener of your movie at Neal Stevens office in LA a while back.
Whatever happened with it–TV sales, etc?

(anyway see below)

============================>>>

Sun, 21 Oct 2007 20:31:49 -0500 [10/21/2007 08:31:49 PM CST]
From: J Rosette <
camerado@camerado.com>
To:
jbowman@santafe.com, srubin@santafe
Subject: Hello, regarding (No Sex For) SUSAN HERO!

Headers: Show All Headers

Hello–


My name is Jason Rosette, I’m the director of a movie called (No Sex For) SUSAN HERO!
[formerly titled SUSAN HERO–we added a new pre-title to it].


A colleague of mine, Dr Alan Rice (one of the actors) recently was in New Mexico and
handed off a DVD screener of the movie for your consideration in a local New Mexico
/span>

filmmaker showcase–I was living fulltime in NM for several years and was there when we
developed and produced SUSAN HERO.


Anyway
thanks in

dvance for your consideration; we hope

t might be able to screen at

your event.


Just want to call your attention to a couple items: 1) the latest, final version of the
movie may be slightly different (more polished) than the screener you have, although it’s
not significantly different, and 2) I am living and working in Asia these days on a
variety of social issue projects, and I would very much like to be around if/when the

movie is screened.


Can you please contact me rather than Alan, or at least in addition to Alan, with the
;
status of the movie, ie, whether it will be screening, etc?


I’m actually in the US now and due to head back to Asia, and I would try my best in the
event you wanted to screen SUSAN HERO, to be able to make an appearance in New Mexico if

& when it were to screen.


Thanks, I can be reached at camerado@cam
rado.com
or alte
nately at
jrosette@gmail.com

Thanks again,

Jason Rosette


Last edited by DavidM_190568 : 01-05-2008 at 01:43 PM.

#16 Report Post
Old 01-05-2008, 01:36 PM
DavidM_190568's Avatar
Mogul

Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Birmingham, Ala.
Posts: 2,288
Default


Jason, now that we’ve seen what your message to the festival said, I don’t really blame the festival. There’s nothing in there that says, “Hey, my film was submitted without my consent — and I want it withdrawn from consideration.” In fact, you seem to mainly be wanting them to contact you because you’d like to attend. You even say, “Thanks for your consideration….” A reasonable person can take this e-mail as SUPPORTING your film’s entry into this festival. I just don’t see that you clearly and unambiguously said that your film was submitted without your permission and that is was not to be screened. Unless there was some other communication on the issue that I’m overlooking, I don’t see how the festival is to blame. With as many communications as they must get about various films, I don’t see that they can be held responsible for parsing the meaning of your e-mail in the way you apparently meant it to be taken. Without you being CLEAR about your issue, it doesn’t seem that they had a responsibility to get in touch with you — since you never alleged that the film was submitted without your approval. That’s just the way I read it.

I’ll again echo what everyone else seems to be saying: Let it go.

__________________
David McElroy
http://www.davidmcelroy.org/
“We’re the Government – and You’re Not” A presentation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Propaganda
“Dysfunctional Family Association” A comedy coming sometime in the next decade!

Here, I sent a message [private message on the WAB site which I can’t access] to David explaining that, again, I had NO IDEA FOR SURE WHO HAD THE DVD. There’s a huge difference in meaning in knowing that I was trying anything I could, including sendin out “blind” emails on pure hunches, to try to track down my movie while, at the same time, trying not to alienate potentially interested fest staff.

The message I sent out, as diplomatic and accomodating as it may have been, and which David incorrectly reads to mean that I knew exactly who had the DVD all along, was pure GUESSWORK.

Astonishingly, the actor (Dr. Alan Rice) would not tell me who he had provided the disc to, since he was concerned that I would pull the movie…it wasn’t important to Alan that I wanted to see it play in person, my longtime goal and prerogative (and which I could have done had the fest even just informed me the movie would be playing) What was important was that he could attend the screening himself, in person which he did.

Unfortunately, and contrary to what could really have been more objective, fair, and impartial , Noah would not allow this point to be clarified; he simply shut the thread (hence my decision to clarify here)

#17 Report Post

;

Old 01-05-2008, 03:55 PM
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Administrator

Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Venice,CA
Posts: 3,304
Default


going to shutter this thread while I try to fix things behind the scenes.

-Noah

__________________
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For WAB Message Board Help, Comments or Suggestions, Please Contact me at:
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;

Subject: Re: The Santa Fe Issue
Headers: Show All Headers

Noah–

I understand you needed to close the thread, although I thought I should clarify and hope
you can add, because currently the context of the last post doesn’t accurately reflect on
this situation:

…I sent that email (to Santa Fe) out as a GUESS. I sent the same email out to all the
festival/movie folks who I suspected MIGHT have the DVD the actor gave them. I was
basically “shotgunning” a emails around since the actor refused to tell me exactly who
he’d given the disc to.

The way it reads now in the post is that I knew exactly who (the Santa Fe fest) had the
DVD and I was basically approving them to screen it. As stated, I wasn’t sure if that was
the clearest way to do the outreach, but I had little choice. I didn’t know who had the
disc!

Basically, if the situation is to be examined at all, that would be an important
point–otherwise, might as well delete the entire thread seems to me.

But, it’s your board…

Anyway, the advice of the WAB board is taken to heart regarding moving on, looks like a
doc I pitched out here is getting some financing. (BTW: my $ mainly comes from
development communications these days, not much intersection between the indie film world
and that one)

Best,

Jason


Let’s leave it as is until the situation is resolved. Then we will
amend with the resolution details. That way it still has the potential

to be a useful thread to other users down the road.


Noah


Re: The Santa Fe Issue
Headers: Show All Headers

Sounds OK to me; that would be my only remaining request, in all fairness (re: the
“shotgun of emails”) but even still, some important possibly useful points have been
raised.


ct: Quick NOte–Re: The Santa Fe Issue
Headers: Show All Headers
NOah–

I must head out now; but just as an FYI, because there are other stakeholders involved in
the movie, we would ask, for technical reasons mainly, that you NOT be involved (we
discussed this anyway though right?) in dealing with the fest to resolve the issue…

If you want to be involved in some way, best thing would be to encourage them to contact
me directly, rather than take on a mediator role.

Thanks for your understanding,

Jason

END of DISCUSSION






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9 years, 7 months ago Comments Off on The Compleat Online Discussion re: controversy surrounding the Santa Fe Film Fest’s screening of SUSAN HERO (since re-titled to “Lost In New Mexico”)